"The Pioneer's Home. On
the Western Frontier." 1867
Pioneers made their homes of whatever was available.
Their dwellings ranged from lean-tos to log cabins, dugouts
to sod houses. In the prairie, sod houses and dugouts were free
for the labor and therefore the most common. Wood had to be
purchased and shipped at too high a cost for most settlers.
Houses, barns,schools, and post offices are among
the types of buildings constructed of sod. They had no electricity,
just dirt walls sealed with newspapers or book pages torn from
the binding and mixed with spit and the mucilage from the hooves
of dead animals to try to seal out the wind.
Women and especially children rarely went far
from the home. The nearest town might be many miles away and
entail a dangerous trek through unsafe territory.
With walls three feet thick, a well-built sod
house was cool in the summer and warm in the winter. However,
many houses were thrown up quickly and had many holes in both
walls and roof. The roofs tended to leak, and lighting was poor.
Insanity was a frequent price of a long winter with the wind
howling at the cracks.
Floors were of dirt, although some families could
afford rough split logs or carpet. Some homeowners tried straw,
but that encouraged fleas. Cleaning was impossible. Pioneers
shared their homes with bugs, snakes, and other vermin.
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